LEWISTON — Mayor Robert Macdonald defeated challenger Ben Chin in Tuesday’s special mayoral runoff election.

The vote was 4,398 to 3,826.

“I was looking at all those people today, and I thought I actually could win,” Macdonald said afterward. “But you never know until the end. Some stopped and they said they voted for me, but they told me, ‘If you don’t win, I just want to thank you for what you’ve done over the last two years.'”

The two were the only candidates left of five in Lewiston’s Nov. 3 municipal election. Chin had the most votes in that ballot, claiming 44 percent of the total cast — 3,673, just 494 votes short of winning outright.

Macdonald had 37 percent of the vote, 3,107 on the Nov. 3 ballot, 566 votes behind Chin.

The remaining candidates, Steve Morgan, Luke Jensen and Charles Soule, combined for 1,552 votes — about 19 percent of the total. Morgan and Jensen were conservative candidates, and both threw their support behind Macdonald.


Chin said his goal since November’s ballot has been to appeal to those voters.

“I have learned a lot from everybody, and I include folks on the center and on the more conservative side,” Chin said. “They’ve pushed me to be a better candidate and really refine all my ideas. So I’m actually really grateful for everything I’ve heard from all walks of life.”

He wasn’t successful for Mike Albert, who voted for Morgan in November.

“But Morgan didn’t make it,” Albert said. “So I knew who I wanted this time. Or more importantly, who I didn’t want.”

Albert said his vote for Macdonald was mostly a vote against Chin. The Chin campaign was just too much, he said.

“I don’t like the idea of all that outside support,” Albert said. “That, right there was almost 90 percent of my decision.”


Chin kicked off his campaign in March, and that included fundraising. He managed to bring in more than $90,000 for his campaign, spending all but $28,161 as of the Nov. 30 campaign finance report filed with the city clerk.

Macdonald, who barely campaigned, managed to raise $5,800, according to his campaign finance reports. Of that total, $4,245 came after the Nov. 3 ballot.

Macdonald said it was a common theme he heard from voters as they were leaving the polls Tuesday.

“They had people knocking on their doors and calling them,” Macdonald said. “There were a lot of people that said it was borderline harassment.”

Other voters cited Chin’s age and his apparent lack of experience.

“I think (Macdonald’s) doing a great job, and I don’t think Chin really knows what’s going on in the city,” said Don Engelhart of Bobby Street. “He’s never gotten his hands really dirty in this city, as far as I can tell.”


Tina Rea, of Pleasant Street, said she liked Macdonald’s efforts to reform welfare.

“The bottom line is taxes,” Rea said. “It comes down to who we are supporting and who we are not, financially.”

Kandy Wood of Wakefield Street said she voted for Macdonald both times.

“I like the way he talks. I don’t like smooth-talkers,” she said. “That’s one reason I didn’t want to vote for Chin. And, I think he’s a little too young. He may have great ideas, but when it comes to actually backing it up, he doesn’t seem to have any ideas other than tax, tax, tax, tax. And I think we are taxed enough.”

Tuesday’s special ballot nearly surpassed the Nov. 3 municipal ballot. In that vote, 8,393 voters cast ballots — about 33 percent of the city’s registered voters. That included 2,000 absentee ballots.

City Clerk Kathy Montejo said the city was well on its way to surpassing that. She said 2,050 people had cast ballots by 11:30 a.m. Combined with 2,900 absentee ballots, nearly 4,000 people had voted by lunchtime.


In all, 8,229 people voted Tuesday, just 164 votes short of the number of votes cast in the November ballot.

Macdonald is set to begin his third term as mayor, the maximum according to the city charter’s term-limit provision. And Macdonald said when this term is finished, so is his career in politics.

“This is my last hurrah,” he said. “I’ve been in it to win it, but I’m done after this.”

He leads a sharply divided City Council, including four councilors who came out in support of his opponent.

“But I can work with anyone,” Macdonald said. “I think I can work with people.”

Macdonald said he’s especially looking forward to Portland’s new Mayor Ethan Strimling.


“He listens; he really does,” Macdonald said. “Between the governor, myself and Strimling, I hope we can do something for the refugees so they can learn English and learn jobs quickly.”

As far as his goals, Macdonald said welfare reform tops his list.

“Not anything huge — we just need to tweak it a bit,” Macdonald said. “The second thing I want to do is get some nice housing for the working poor. Really, if not for the working poor, the town does not run.”

Macdonald said he also wants to make funding for Museum L-A a priority.

Tuesday night, Chin told his supporters, a group of about 75 who had gathered at the local eatery and pub She Doesn’t Like Guthries on Middle Street, it wasn’t easy to not “feel a little dark” given the current political climate in the U.S. and Maine.

“One thing that surprised me was how many of my neighbors actually refused to shake my hand,” Chin said. “And when we look around the world at the Donald Trumps and the Paul LePages and the violence all around the world, it’s only a little natural to feel a little darkness at this point.”


Chin said his supporters were not going away and they intended to be involved and active in 2016 and would work to support a number of issues including a state ballot question aimed at raising the minimum wage, among other things.

“There’s only one question when the world feels dark and that is, ‘What do we do in that darkness?'” Chin said. “There is only one thing to be done and that is to do what all of you have been doing and that is to be a light for the world.”

Chin said he planned to take paternity leave to spend time with his newborn daughter and his wife.

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